Wednesday, February 28, 2007



I was just driving home from a meeting and I was listening to "Marketplace" on KCRW. The show ended with a correction. It was about a low-down Inside-the-Beltway politician/K Street operator who was taking a planeful of lobbyists on a golfing trip. They weren't going to Scotland and the arch villain in this little vignette wasn't lowlife Majority Leader Tom DeLay; it was lowlife Majority Leader Steny Hoyer. The correction: Hoyer's staff came whining to NPR that it wasn't 137 rooms (as had been reported); NPR had counted some rooms twice that were being used on consecutive nights. When NPR asked how many lobbyists were going golfing with the Majority Leader in all... they stopped whining and started hemming and hawing. Yes bigger than a breadbox but "around" 60 or so.

I thought this is why we worked our asses off last year-- not to make slimy hacks careers better but to bring honesty and decency back to our government. So now instead of Tom DeLay and Denny Hastert we're stuck with the equally reprehensible Steny Hoyer and Rahm Emanuel. These people don't belong leading the Democratic Party; they belong in prison-- along with anyone else, of either party, who thinks being elected to public office means dining at the public trough-- and golfing with lobbyists, whether in Scotland or Puerto Rico.

I'm sure the Rio Mar Beach Golf Resort and Spa is no St Andrews but the idea is the same-- corruption. Technically the trip is not illegal and Hoyer can't be dragged before a judge and thrown in prison. But that's because of the absurdity of allowing politicians to write the laws governing their own behavior. The trip is being paid for by Hoyer's PAC and NPR explains how it works:
This is the way the leadership PAC loophole works: Hoyer's guests give thousands of dollars to his PAC. Because there are few restrictions on how PAC money can be spent, Hoyer's PAC uses some of the cash to pay for the congressman's trip to Puerto Rico. The PAC also provides entertainment, golf, even nifty little gifts bags for all the guests. The lobbyists and donors who have supplied the cash for this party then pay their own way to Puerto Rico. And in return for their generosity, they get to golf and hang with the congressman in the Caribbean.

Am I saying that Hoyer should be stripped of his job as majority Leader? Yes. Am I saying that Hoyer should be kicked out of the Democratic Caucus? Yes. Am I suggesting to the good folks back in Maryland's 5th CD that they defeat him and elect ah honest congressman instead? Of course I am.

Or maybe I'm mixing up this corrupt Steny Hoyer with a different Steny Hoyer. I better think that through. NPR reported on a Steny Hoyer last year who "campaigned hard on ethics reforms. And in the wake of several scandals, harangued Republicans in the House. [He thundered] "The greed and flagrant absues of convicted felons, former Republican member Duke Cunningham and Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff, hang over this House like a dark cloud."

I went to The Google. I typed in "steny hoyer" and 474,000 articles came up. There's only one Steny Hoyer in Congress. It's the same guy! Oh, God! I started reading the articles. This guy sounds really bad! Wonkette said "Steny Hoyer Is A Crook Too" and even the ass-kissin' Washington Post entitled a piece about him "In Hoyer's Rise, Backers Eye Payoff".

This makes me really sick. Didn't the Democrats learn anything from the defeat the Republicans suffered last year, a great part of which was due to the outlandish corruption the leadership of their party was engaged in? I remember when Hoyer was campaigning for Majority Leader he sent his minions out to smear Jack Murtha's reputation by dredging up baseless dirt on a decades old scandal that had long ago been proven a dead-end. And now Hoyer is in power, acting like no one cares about ethics, and he seems determined to drag the Democrats down to a defeat they will have earned for electing a man of no moral character to be their leader.

How can Hoyer lead a party looking into the gargantuan corruption of the Bush Regime and the Republican Culture of Corruption, when he's cut from the same fabric. Just today the Washinton Post's Dan Eggen reports that David Iglesias "the fired U.S. Attorney in New Mexico says he was pressured by two members of Congress prior to the November elections about the pace of an ongoing public corruption probe that targets local Democrats. The American people want a solid and upright sheriff to put an end to this garbage, not a 2-bit broken down whore like Hoyer. Throw the bum out.


Ari Berman did a stupendous job this week on an investigative piece on K Steet's biggest pal among Senate Democrats, Max Baucus. Baucus is a living admonishment to progressives who think the only really bad corporate whores are Republican corporate whores. Like Hoyer, Baucus is as bad as a Republican. "Today, in the aftermath of the Democratic sweep of Congress, Baucus is still one of corporate America's favorite Democrats. As chair of the Finance Committee, he counts among his friends and political supporters a Who's Who of bankers, oilmen, ranchers, pharmaceutical lobbyists and Wall Street executives. He's particularly close to Montana's sole billionaire, industrialist Dennis Washington, a major donor to the Republican Party whose business interests Baucus has promoted over the years. The business community, in turn, expresses admiration for Baucus in its usual style--by writing big checks. The Finance Committee has always had an incestuous relationship with corporate lobbyists, and with Baucus at the helm, the tradition continues."

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Nuclear proliferation is a huge problem and the Bush Regime/Neocon foreign policy agenda of unbridled aggression has pushed several countries along the nuclear path. Once the U.S. has a real president again, this is something that will have to be dealt with in a serious manner. Today the Center for American Progress has released a report with some well thought-out suggestions about how to approach the Iran problem. It's very much worth reading. The short version:
"Contain and Engage: A New Strategy for Resolving the Nuclear Crisis with Iran" outlines choreography for breaking the current impasse over substantive negotiations and a strategy for maximizing the ability of the United States to shape Iran's decision-making. It also lays the groundwork for more effectively containing Iran should the country's divided ruling elites still press ahead with a nuclear enrichment program.

Key elements of the strategy include:

* Isolate Iran as long as it continues with its nuclear enrichment efforts;
* Preserve the unity of the UN Security Council and other nations engaged in negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program;
* Maintain international and national sanctions, however limited;
* Restrict Iran's access to nuclear and missile technologies;
* Break the diplomatic stalemate over Iran's defiance of the Security Council;
* Begin direct dialogue with Iran;
* Invest in new diplomatic and security infrastructure in the Middle East to both better integrate Iran and assure U.S. allies;
* Engage Iran economically, beginning with the gasoline refinery sector;
* Create a regional nuclear fuel bank consortium under IAEA leadership;
* Prepare smart military options to thwart any offensive Iranian military activities;
* Lay the diplomatic groundwork for a long-term strategy of containing Iran should negotiations break down.

In short, the United States must remind Iran of the potential benefits of cooperation as well as the escalating costs of failure to comply with its nonproliferation obligations. Rather than pursue the faint hope that coercive measures will force Iran's capitulation, our contain-and-engage strategy couples the pressures created by sanctions, diplomatic isolation and investment freezes with practical compromises and realizable security assurances to encourage Iran onto a verifiable, non-nuclear weapons path.
The report includes a technical summary of Iran's program, an analysis of Iran's domestic politics, and an overall threat assessment of a nuclear- or near-nuclear Iran.
It also considers and rejects the four main U.S. policy options on Iran - the status quo policy of squeezing Iran; regime change via democracy promotion; air strikes against Iran's nuclear facilities; and a "grand bargain."

Meanwhile, Pakistan already has a nuclear arsenal and is a heartbeat away from rule by Taliban-like fanatics. The Taliban and al-Qaeda operate inside northwest Pakistan with impunity and have established new bases and training camps there. If Bush and the Neocons thought they would be able to divide the Muslim world they have been woefully wrong. Other than a few emirs and kings, almost the entire Muslim world-- and certainly the entire Arab world-- is united... in their unmitigated loathing for the Bush Regime and its Crusader agenda.

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CNN reported today that the Republican leadership's biggest bribe-taking scumbag Whip, Roy Blunt (R-MO) objects to William Jefferson (D-LA) getting a seat on the Homeland Security Committee. Neither Blunt nor Jefferson have been charged with any bribery-related crimes yet but the FBI found $90,000 in cash inside Jefferson's freezer. Blunt raised over $3,000,000 in the last election cycle alone, most of it from lobbyists and Big Business PACs for whom he is a willing and eager whore. Roy Blunt is one of the half dozen most corrupt members of Congress and his presence in that body is a dark mark on democracy itself. "Hypocrisy" barely begins to define his complaint against Jefferson who is strictly small-potatoes compared the Blunt's systemic organized crime operations.
Blunt called the move by the Speaker Pelosi, who trumped ethics reform in last fall's congressional campaign, "such a contradiction to what the Speaker said she stood for during the campaign."

After the House Democratic caucus approved the committee assignment last night, the matter moves to the House floor. Typically committee assignments are passed unanimously on the floor without recorded votes. But Blunt told reporters on Wednesday that Republicans will object when the issue comes up on the floor and request a recorded vote.

Blunt said, "I think our side will generally think that this is not only not a good idea but totally inconsistent with the major point that the Speaker made when she wanted to be the Speaker-- that this would not be allowed, that there were penalties on their side. And the idea that Homeland Security is somehow less important than the tax-writing committee I think is a ludicrous idea."

But there's even more to that than the juxtaposition between Jefferson's frozen $90,000 and the millions of dollars in bribes scooped up by Blunt. Quite a few Republicans were appointed to powerful committee positions-- with Blunts' connivance-- who are under federal investigation by the FBI, IRS and other federal law enforcement agencies. Most egregious, of course, is Jerry Lewis, ranking member on the House Appropriations Committee. As Chairman of that committee Lewis used it-- and allowed other Republicans like Randy "Duke" Cunningham, Virgil Goode, Duncan Hunter and John Doolittle to use it-- as a way to enrich themselves in return for bilking billions of dollars from American taxpayers at the behest of corrupt lobbyists and contractors and GOP-connected hucksters. Several of Lewis' closest associates have been indicted and he is under investigation by a myriad of federal agencies and has already spent close to a million dollars in legal fees-- even before being indicted himself. But Roy Blunt feels that this sack of shit should be the GOP leader on the very committee he used as a piggy bank?

And what about Gary Miller? He's likely to be the next Republican congressman thrown in the slammer. Yet despite investigations galore, It was just a month ago that Miller was named the ranking member of the Oversight and Investigative Subcommittee of the Financial Service Committee. A DCCC spokesperson summed up what all Americans who are aware of this travesty must be thinking: "House Republicans seem to mistakenly believe that being investigated by the FBI qualifies you for an influential position on the oversight and investigative subcommittee...This kind of lack of leadership and accountability from the GOP is exactly why Americans voted for a change of direction in Congress.”


Tomorrow is a special day-- and I don't just mean the day in 1954 on which both Opie (Ron Howard) and Daisy Duke (Catherine Bach) were born-- nor even the day, considerably earlier, Chopin was born (or even Roger Daltry). Tomorrow is the day that Republican criminal slime bucket, ex-congressman Bob Ney gets the prison cell door slammed on his fat ass. Two down, at least 100 to go.

I would have guessed that the next to do a little frog walk and get hauled before a judge and jury would have been House crime kingpin Jerry Lewis (R-CA). But, then along comes Gary Miller, a neighbor of Lewis' from the Inland Empire and the OC. Yesterday the DCCC put out this awesome chart that compares Ney's tactics to Miller's. They should have had columns for Tom DeLay and Randy "Duke" Cunningham as well.

Bob Ney
Gary Miller
Tactic #1: Claim Not to be a Target of Investigation In November 2005, Ney's spokesman said, "He has not been told that he is the target of any investigation …" [Cleveland Plain Dealer, 11/19/2005] According to the Orange County Register, "Miller also said that he hasn't heard from anyone at the FBI or any other federal agency." [Orange County Register, 2/1/07]
Tactic #2: Blame the MediaNey's spokesman insisted that the media was making inaccurate attacks, claiming "There have been a litany of unfounded allegations made against the congressman by the Washington media in recent months…" [CQ Today, 11/5/06]Miller has complained of a media smear campaign, claiming, "I've been bashed in the press as though I've done something wrong…" [San Gabriel Valley Tribune, 2/2/07]
Tactic #3: Claim He Hasn't Done Anything WrongIn January 2006, Ney's spokesman said The congressman is absolutely convinced that he's done nothing wrong." [The Hill, 1/18/06] According to the Pasadena News, "Miller said ... 'It surprises me,' he said. 'I have no idea why they would. There has been no impropriety.'" [Pasadena Star News, 1/30/07]

Miller insists he has "absolutely been falsely accused" [Roll Call, 2/9/07]
Tactic #4: Claim to Be a VictimNey's spokesman said that Ney was an unfortunate victim of a secret scheme. "All that this plea agreement shows is that Mr. Scanlon had a deliberate, secret and well-concealed scheme to defraud many people, and it appears, unfortunately, that Rep. Ney was one of the many people defrauded." [CQ Today, 11/25/05]"I am honestly sick to death of false accusations, of people trying to impugn me and discredit my reputation…" Miller said. [Orange County Register, 2/1/07]

According to the Pasadena Star News, "Miller said he acted as an anxious businessman trying to protect his investment and his right to develop his property - not as a powerful politician seeking to use his position for monetary gain, as he says he has been portrayed." [Pasadena Star News, 2/4/07]
Tactic #5: Tell the Republican Caucus it Just Isn't True In May 2006, Ney addressed the Republican caucus, insisting on his innocence. According to a source close to Ney, "He is hoping to speak to the whole Conference [Wednesday] and make clear that if he believed for one second that there was any truth to these allegations, he wouldn't be standing before them and he wouldn't put his family through this," a source close to Ney said. "He recognizes the questions that are out there among his colleagues and he welcomes the opportunity to have them hear from him directly." [Roll Call, 5/10/06] In February 2007, Miller appeared before the Republican Conference insisting on his innocence of ethical lapses involved in California land transactions. Even some his Republican colleagues noted the resemblance between Miller's speech and that made by Ney the year before. [Chicago Sun-Times, 2/11/07]

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John Hall (D-NY) got the most votes and Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH) came in second. They were also my two favorites. And both can expect strong Republican challenges next year. Here's the note Russ sent out this morning:
With all the votes counted, I am proud to announce that the Progressive Patriots community has chosen Representative John Hall (NY-19) as our first 'Pick a Progressive Patriot' of 2007. Congressman Hall is a great progressive congressman and an important addition to the new Democratic majority. We are pleased to send a $5,000 contribution to his campaign and we're thrilled to welcome him to our growing list of "Progressive Patriots".
In addition to a financial contribution, Congressman Hall will be prominently featured on the front page of our website.
All of the other candidates made impressive showings and I'm pleased to announce that we'll also be making contributions to Representative Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01) and Representative Nancy Boyda (KS-02), the second and third place finishers in this round of voting.
'Pick a Progressive Patriot' is our way of letting you-- the progressive community-- decide who we should support with a financial contribution. Thanks to your generous support, we've been able to contribute to over 60 candidates through this program over the last year.
We took the first step towards a meaningful progressive majority in Congress last November and that was a credit to your hard work and determination-- but we won't stop now. We'll be holding more events like this throughout the year as well as looking for new creative ways to highlight great progressive candidates across the country.
If you have a suggestion for a candidate you think we should consider for future support please let us know by visiting our suggest a candidate section of our website.
Thanks to everyone who participated and congratulations to Congressman Hall.

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I think Mark Warner is Hillary's first choice for running mate. In the unlikely event that she doesn't get the nomination, Warner would be a great running mate for Obama. Edwards or Gore would probably look elsewhere. Hillary could also go with New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson. Warner does have another very inviting career option open to him, the U.S. Senate. Today's Washington Post looks at the possibility of a Warner v Warner rematch next year.

Schumer, head of the DSCC, is the biggest proponent of Mark Warner, 52, jumping in against John Warner, 80. The two Warners are on friendly terms and John Warner is flirting with retirement. He's old and he's tired, losing some of his mental faculties and dismayed with the Neocons and extremists who have taken over so much of the Republican Party. If John Warner retires, Mark Warner, who had an 80% approval rating when he left the governor's mansion, has told friends he's in for sure.

"One Republican active in Virginia politics said that Warner has told U.S. Rep. Thomas M. Davis III (R-Va.) to prepare to run if the senator decides against another bid. 'Davis is actively calling people and is saying on the calls that he has been told by Warner to get ready,' the source said." By current GOP standards Davis is considered a mainstream conservative, not a lunatic fanatic like, say Virgil Goode, who also harbors pretensions towards that senate seat and, of course who be the best bet for Democrats' ambitions to take it away from the Republicans.

While my pal Cliff Schecter weighs a Warner v Warner race and has come to some conclusions, there's another potential southern senate race looming, this one more ominously for the Democrats. This one would also pit a popular former governor against a sitting senator-- Arkansas' Mike Huckabee against Mark Pryor.

Huckabee's presidential campaign is a dead-end and Huckabee is probably the only Arkansas Republican who could credibly challenge the popular and conservative-leaning Pryor. Huckabee ran for the Senate in 1992 and lost but, of course, he's way better known and much better liked now. But Arkansas has been trending Democratic lately-- they hold all 7 constitutional offices and big majorities in the state legislature-- and Pryor would be tough for any Republican to beat, even Huckabee. One of the problems there is that the extremist religionist faction of the GOP controls the primaries but their candidates repulse normal people and even moderate Republicans have a hard time embracing them and their backward and hateful agenda.

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Obviously most members of Congress who back Labor are Democrats. But the Chamber of Commerce is striking out viciously against members of both parties who they feel may vote for the union-backed Employee Free Choice Act. The bill would require employers to recognize organizing efforts in their workplace if a majority of workers sign cards in support of forming a union. Unions have made it clear that the legislation is needed because the current organizing process takes many years and is unfairly weighted, courtesy of Republican recipients of Big Business bribes, in favor of employers.

The Chamber is buying propaganda ads in 51 congressional districts. Their chief lobbyist, Bill Miller, widely considered one of the most sleazy and odious characters in Washington (almost a Cheney-like monster, and nearly as hated), growled in an interview that "We're making people feel pain. You cannot cross the Chamber and support big labor at any cost. The price is having thousands of dollars of radio run in your district." The fascistic Chamber is running their vicious and completely misleading ads against 29 Democrats and 22 Republicans.

The bill, which has over 230 co-sponsors in the House is a shoe-in but the Chamber is gearing up for a fight to the death in the Senate where it is expected reactionaries from both parties may be able to kill it. Miller warns that the Chamber's campaign when the bill reaches the Senate will "be even bigger and nastier." Among the congressmen targeted by the Chamber are Jerry McNerney (CA), Carol Shea-Porter (NH) as well as more conservative Democrats like Nancy Boyda (KS), Nick Lampson (TX), and Tim Mahoney (FL), and Republicans in moderate districts like Charles Dents (PA), Randy Kuhl (NY), and Tim Walberg (MI). The Chamber and the National Association of Manufacturers, another far right lobbyist organization, are threatening to campaign against any members who vote for the bill in '08.

With Republicans struggling to unite their far, far right-wing extremist faction with their plain right-wing faction, the Chambers' nasty attack is very bad news indeed. But any help we can get on Kuhl and Walberg, two congressmen unlikely to survive 2008, will be much-appreciated.


Tuesday, February 27, 2007



It takes a big man to admit he was wrong and rethink his position and do exactly what his critics asked him to do regardless of having once said he would refuse to consider it. When I was CEO of a company I used to look for people like that. But you have to be careful because the other kind of person who will demonstrate the same overt behavior is a weak and desperate person. And you don't want to have them around.

Through his Iraqi puppet-- some would say Quisling-- government, Bush has finally agreed to the diplomatic conference Democrats and the Iraq Study Group have been urging on him for some time. Today's Washington Post reports that Condoleeza expects to chair a "neighbors conference" with Iran, Syria and Iraq in April. Is she baking cookies and bringing sandwiches? (Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Turkey all have contiguous borders with Iraq. Are they coming too?)
"The violence occurring within the country has a decided impact on Iraq's neighbors," Rice told the Senate Appropriations Committee, which is considering the administration's nearly $100 billion request to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. "And Iraq's neighbors as well as the international community have a clear role to play in supporting the Iraqi government's effort to promote peace and national reconciliation within the country."

The Three Stooges Neither Bush, nor Cheney, nor Rice has agreed to direct talks with Iran (or Syria), presumably because they're assisting Iraqi insurgents, although that hasn't deterred the Three Stooges from non-stop talk with Saudi Arabia, by far the biggest supplier of the most deadly weapons to the insurgents in Iraq. In fact, it is estimated that at least 70% of American casualties in Iraq have Bush's Saudi business partner's paw prints on them.

There's been a lot made lately-- on both sides of the aisle-- about Rice's inadequacy for a job beyond what she was originally hired for (tutor for retardo-boy). She proves it every time she opens her mouth. She told whoever was paying attention to her silliness that al-Maliki "believes and President Bush and I agree that success in Iraq requires the positive support of Iraq's neighbors. This is one of the key findings, of course, of the Iraq Study Group and it is an important dimension that many in the Senate and in the Congress have brought to our attention." How many Americans-- and how many Iraqis-- have died since Bush dug in his heals and refused to pay any attention to this suggestions?

This Regime is simply so egregiously incompetent that they can't even make a go of putting on a good face anymore. Is it any wonder that today's ABC/Washington Post Poll shows us that only 35% of Americans feel they can "trust the Administration to honestly/accurately report intelligence about possible threats from other countries? That is very serious and Congress is flirting with malfeasance in not moving towards impeachment. A Gallup poll also came out today and only a fool would be surprised to see that 73% of respondents feel that leaders of other countries around the world do not respect Bush.

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I know it's not Anna Nicole Smith but I don't understand why the media is ignoring a story that will impact people nearly as much as the death of this magnificent icon, a warning from Alan Greenspan that the U.S. economy may slip back into recession by the end of the year. Maybe people just can't conceive of things being any worse than they already are.

Today's stock market crash may help shake some people up a little. The New York Times reports that "stocks plunged in New York today after a sell-off in China rattled markets worldwide and surprisingly weak economic data fanned fears that the economy may be more vulnerable to a downturn than widely thought." The S&P 500 lost around 3.5% of it's value, it's biggest loss since 9/11-- and wiping it all of the gains made so far in 2007. Aside from instability in the Chinese market and a weak durable goods orders report here also hurt, as did nervousness over the possible economic impact of rising defaults among high-risk borrowers, known as sub-prime borrowers because their credit histories are often spotty.

Now if you live in Mississippi, you already know how things can get worse... a big storm, an incompetent government and an overly greedy, unregulated insurance industry. I remember seeing Democratic Congressman Gene Taylor on TV some months ago fit to be tied over the rip off policies of the insurance companies. You might not expect a reactionary, pro-business near-Republican like Taylor to give a crap about his constituents-- and you'd be correct-- but this time the insurance companies were messing with him personally. Like Trent Lott, first Katrina and then the insurance industry screwed with Taylor. Now, of course, they're trying to settle his case. But he's still pissed.

When it comes to substantive issues Taylor tends to vote with Republicans more than with Democrats. In a purer world, his voting record would mean an automatic expulsion from the Democratic caucus. (But the district is a safe Republican one, he votes with Dems more than any Republican does, his Republican replacement would be much worse, Bush won the district against Kerry with 68% of the vote...) Still, hard to get too worked up over the sufferings of Congressman Taylor at the hands of the insurance industry when you look at how he has abandoned Democratic values to help empower and enrich them-- at the expense of ordinary working people. I'm sure he's sorry now. Let's see if he can do anything about it.

According to a story in today's CongressDaily Taylor's bill-- which will be fought tooth and claw by the powerful Insurance lobby-- seeks to have the federal government's flood insurance program cover wind damages.
Taylor has sponsored legislation that would allow homeowners to obtain windstorm coverage under the National Flood Insurance Program in areas where the local government has adopted building standards designed to reduce wind damage. Taylor contends his bill would prevent problems that occurred after hurricanes Katrina and Rita struck the Gulf Coast in 2005, when many private insurers did not cover or only partially covered wind claims, arguing that the main damage was caused by a flood surge.

Taylor and many other coastal residents have sued their insurance companies, contending the winds damaged their homes before the flood surge... "Let the screen door hit them in the rear end. As bad as they treated south Mississippi, denying claims, kicking people while they were down," Taylor said of State Farm. Other insurance carriers have left coastal markets because of potential huge liabilities from another Katrina-like storm.

State governments are scrambling to solve the problem, with Florida last month passing legislation that creates a state reinsurance fund up to $32 billion so carriers can continue to operate. Taylor contends his bill takes a better approach, instead of trying to solve the insurance crisis state by state. "If they have gone from being a bad actor to a non-actor, then there is a place for the [federal] government to step in, just like government stepped in in the late '60s under the same circumstances because the private sector didn't want to have to cover floods anymore," Taylor said. "You had people at risk and our nation was in position to step in and help some people and spread the risk." Taylor noted that unlike the current flood program, rates under his bill would be actuarially based so the new program would be deficit neutral. "As a fiscal conservative, someone who believes in a balanced budget, I am perfectly comfortable in asking for this because we are not going to offer it unless it pays for itself," Taylor said.

The head lobbyists (bribers) for the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies and the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America, Justin Roth and Ben McKay, seem to be accusing Taylor, a longtime reactionary corporate whore, of being a commie. "Taylor said he was not surprised by the opposition from much of the industry, but hoped to create a coalition with real estate brokers, home builders and commercial businesses to generate support because all those segments are threatened by the lack of affordable homeowner and commercial property insurance." May the best lobbyist win?


My pal Bonddad is an expert on this kind of stuff. Take a look at what he had to say about today's melt-down. "The bottom line is the volume indicates everybody was looking for the door today. The breaking of trend lines indicates a reversal occurred, further confirmed by the huge volume totals. The SPYs are clearly moving lower. The QQQQs need to move through 43.5 or so and the IWNs need to move through 78.60 for there to be a real break. But given today's action, we could have further drops tomorrow."




The wingnuts who vote in Republican primaries know almost nothing about Rudy Giuliani. They certainly don't know he's a serial crossdresser and they are unsure of how he stands on even the issues most important to them. All they know is that he led his policemen on the raid that dislodged the Arab armies that invaded New York on 9-11 and he killed them all and saved South Carolina from the influx of Jews and Blacks and Puerto Ricans who would have fled New York to escape if Rudy hadn't acted so selflessly (while Bush was hiding under a desk and then flying around the country like a chicken without a head, although that must have been Bill Clinton). Other than that, no one knows anything about him north of 85th Street or south of northern New Jersey.

Today Neocon propagandist John Podhoretz-- accent on the middle syllable-- did a Rudy puff piece in Murdoch's New York Post. He explains Giuliani's popularity by identifying him as the hero who caused the piles of Arab bodies in the streets of New York after the Attack. "After all, how else can you explain a man with Giuliani's supposedly liberal social views possibly rise as high as he has-- besting John McCain among Republicans by as many as 22 points in one poll? Many on the right profess amazement at the lead he's opened up among Republican primary voters, considering his pro-choice views and sloppy personal life."

Podhoretz is much dumber than his father. I suppose it never dawned on him that the average Republican pollee is even dumber than he is. They don't know about Rudy's pro-choice/pro-gay/pro gun control/pro-undocumented work views or that he's a got a... how did he put it? A "sloppy personal life?"

The greed and selfishness wing of the GOP certainly likes Giuliani. And that explains why corporate whores like Bill Simon and Michael Boskin signed on to his campaign today (not to mention a whole gaggle of the sleaziest gambling industry crooks in Nevada who are raising him money next week: Roger Norman, Steve Wark, Mike Alonso, Randy Capurro, Glenn Carano, Ben Farahi, and John Sande). [WEDNESDAY MINI-UPDATE: MORE GAMBLERS FOR RUDY- Once it was announced Rudy would be in Reno taking money from the gambling industry, a whole slew of organized crime's most faithful servants in Nevada signed on to help: Bob Cashell (Reno), Geno Martini (Sparks), Bob Larkin (Washoe County), and State Senate Majority Leader Bill Raggio.]
But they like him because he's one of them; it's all about the Benjamins in that world and they don't care if he cheats on 2 wives at once-- and wears their dresses-- or what he says about any social issues one way or the other. They're just in it for that good old fashioned GOP Greed. Now, the base voters on the other hand...

Wait 'til they find out! According to a Diageo poll that came out today 64% of Americans disapprove of Bush's handling of Iraq. Giuliano isn't among them. Only 28% of voters say they are inclined to vote for a (generic) Republican for president in 2008. When you ask them the open-ended question, "Who would you most like to see elected president in 2008, it reads like this:
Hillary 18%
Obama 12%
Giuliani 8%
McCain 6%
Romney 4%
Edwards 3%
Lots of undecideds. And when you ask that question to Republicans, it reads like this:
Giuliani 17%
McCain 12%
Romney 7%
Hillary 4%
Obama 4%
Brownback 1%
Huckabee 1%
Tancredo 1%

And among Independents only Hillary and Obama are in double digits. Among all voters, only 28% describe Giuliani as pro-choice. The others don't know he is. They will. Only 26% know he supports Bush's Iraq policies. (A Zogby Poll also came out today, by the way. Only 23% of Americans say they approve of Bush's handling of the war in Iraq. That's going to be tough for all the Republicans to handle.)

I saw Giuliani making his "I'm in it" speech on a Larry King show. He came right out and said "I am pro-choice." That was on CNN. I'm assuming he says the same thing on Fox. I wonder if he actually does. That creepy Romney Breck Girl memo that was leaked today makes it clear that they're going after Giulani by painting him "as a one-dimensional Lone Ranger whose social views-- he supports abortion rights and civil unions for gay couples-- could destroy the 'GOP brand.' 'We can't disqualify Dems like Hillary on social issues ever again' if Giuliani is the nominee, the document states." Something tells me that if the need arises Democrats will be less kind.


Because Adam is so whacky with his photoshop skills I think a lot of DWT readers think we're joking about Rudy being a crossdresser. We're not. Jeff Feldman has the full story-- with video today. It's worth getting to know the man the Republicans want to run for president. Maybe Rudy and Hillary can compete for who looks best in an evening gown.

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The Boston Globe has gotten its hands on an internal Romney document that outlines, for campaign insiders, their candidate's shortcomings. It's a riot. "His hair looks too perfect, he's not a tough war time leader, and he has earned a reputation as 'Slick Dancing Mitt' or 'Flip-Flop Mitt'... The plan, which top Romney strategist Alex Castellanos helped to draft, charts a course for Romney to emerge as the nominee, but acknowledges that the 'the electorate is not where it needs to be for us to succeed.'" Damn those unruly electorates! If only everyone was a zombie or a Mormon or picked their presidents based on hair buoyancy!

The document claims the electorate isn't where it needs to be because they identify Romney with these words: "phony," "political opportunist," "Not a war leader, [lacks] strength of character, toughness," "rapacious Republican businessman." Gee, they know him better than most of us do.
Indeed, a page titled "Primal Code for Brand Romney" said that Romney should define himself as a foil to Bay State Democrats such as Senators Edward M. Kennedy and John Kerry and former governor Michael Dukakis. Romney should position himself as "the anti-Kerry," the presentation says. But elsewhere in the plan, it's clear that Romney and his aides are aware he's open to the same charge that helped derail Kerry's presidential campaign in 2004: that he is a flip-flopper who has changed positions out of political expediency.

They also go on and on about how to effectively attack McCain and Giuliani... but you can figure that out by reading Daily Kos or, for that matter, any right wing website.

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When I was just a child I used to wrestle with a moral dilemma. If I could go back in time to the very beginning of Hitler's chancellorship-- and knowing in the early 1930s what we know currently about what he and the Nazis were up to-- would I kill him? The fact that it would mean my own death was something I discounted entirely. Hitler was a man consumed with hatred and insanity who wielded immense power, power he used for destructiveness on a level rarely seen in history.

How does history judge Jan Kubis and Jozef Gabcik, respectively a Czech and a Slovak soldier, who assassinated Reinhard Heydrich on May 27, 1942. They didn't travel back in time to do it, but from Britain and with the blessing of the Czech government in exile. Heydrich was an SS-Obergruppenfuhrer, chief of Gestapo, one of the 2 or 3 main architects of the Holocaust, and the brutal Governor of Bohemia and Moravia (Czechoslovakia). He wasn't the vice president of Germany but at the time of his death Hitler considered him his political heir. Kubis and Gabcik ambushed him in his open car in a Prague suburb on his way to work. They were more successful than the Taliban suicide bomber was today.

What about Herschel Grynszpan? Ever heard of him? Probably not. He was a German-Polish Jew living in Paris in 1938 when Hitler started racheting up his plans for the extermination of European Jews. With an attitude towards Polish Jewish workers that sounds remarkably like Tom Tancredo's-- and many other Republicans'-- towards Mexican workers in the U.S., Hitler arrested and deported 17,000 Polish Jews living in Germany-- some for more than a decade-- on October 28, 1938. They were dumped at the German-Polish border and forced across. The Polish border guards forced them back. The repulsive and inhumane little drama went on for days in the freezing rain-- and with no food for the victims-- until the Poles finally threw them all in a concentration camp. Herschel Grynszpan's family were among them. Distraught, he went to the German Embassy in Paris to seek help for his family. He was dismissed by an embassy official, Ernst vom Rath. Grynszpan returned on November 7 and shot him.

Yesterday I was in my car when I heard that bad weather would force Cheney to postpone a meeting with the American puppet leader in Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai because neither Karzai nor Cheney could travel between the U.S. airbase where Cheney was holed up and Kabul, where Karazi was holed up, by road and the weather was unsafe for a helicopter. The radio newscaster said the U.S. Secret Service was having fits at the idea of Cheney spending the night in Afghanistan. I said a little prayer.

And then this morning I woke up to find that a Taliban suicide bomber attacked the entrance to the main U.S. military base in Afghanistan, killing up to 23 people and wounding 20 more. Cheney, unhurt, was moved to a bomb shelter.

Newsweek is reporting that Cheney has had a rough week. Seeking to be out of the country for the windup to the Libby trial, in which he has come out as the main villain and a classic traitor, who should himself be on trial, he's been hopscotching around the world causing problems wherever his plane pulled in.

Cheney was sitting in a heavily guarded room at Bagram Air Force base near Kabul when he heard the explosion. Sirens erupted around the base, and a loudspeaker announced an attack. Plumes of smoke rose in the distance. Cheney was escorted immediately to a bomb shelter by Secret Service agents. "I was sitting in my quarters when I heard a loud boom," Cheney recalled later to a small group of reporters accompanying him on his week-long trip to Asia. "Shortly after, Secret Service came in and said there had apparently been an attack on the main gate."

The deaths of vom Rath and Heydrich did nothing to slow Hitler down. What would have happened had the Taliban succeeded in killing Cheney is something we'll never know. America's fate is in the hands of Americans. We need to solve our own problems-- and fortunately we have a constitutional process in which to do that.


Cheney should be paying attention to the Libby trial. Some day-- hopefully some day soon-- he may need to remember every word that was said. And there's more at home Cheney should be paying attention to, even beyond the polls that tell a story of a nation that has lost faith in it's leaders and their policies. For someone of my generation-- and Cheney's as well-- CBS' legendary longtime anchorman, Walter Cronkite, has a moral authority no one involved with the Bush Regime has ever come near. When he came back from Vietnam in 1968 and pronounced it "unwinnable" public opinion shifted against it and President Johnson was perceptive enough to have said, "If I've lost Cronkite, I've lost America."

The Bush Regime only listens to itself-- to the Tony Snowjobs, the O'Lielys, Hannitys, the Pat Robertsons, Ann Coulters and Michelle Malkins. If they were smart they'd pay attention to what Walter Cronkite is saying about their misadventure in Iraq:
"We should have gotten out a long time ago. This is a mistake, this entire war there, its a disaster. And the earlier we get out the better," Cronkite said. "It's a terrible disaster. Look at the loss of lives of our young Americans there and those who have been maimed for life, for what purpose? No purpose we can define."

What's more, he says, America will pay a future price for going into Iraq.

CBS 5 asked Cronkite if Americans were any safer because of the Iraq war?

"No, I don't think so. I think were probably less safe," he responded. "The entire Arab world has now put us down as an enemy. It's going to be a long time for us to take back any suggestion of friendship with those nations."




I'm not certain how many times the hacks in Washington who work for us have to be told we want them to end the war in Iraq before they do something about it. And I'm not even talking about the hopelessly deaf Republicans or Lieberman. Today's Washington Post acknowledges that a majority of Americans favor a deadline for troop withdrawal.
The Post-ABC poll found that 53 percent of Americans favored setting a deadline for troop withdrawals. Among those who favored a deadline, 24 percent said they would like to see U.S. forces out within six months and 21 percent called for the withdrawals to be completed within a year. The rest of those who supported a timetable said they do not support withdrawing all troops until at least a year from now.

This is the first time a Post-ABC News poll has found that a majority of Americans supported establishing such a timetable for withdrawal, which has long been resisted by the president and even some Democrats.

Growing numbers of Americans also favored withdrawing U.S. forces even if civil order in Iraq has not been restored. The poll found that 42 percent favored keeping troops there until order is reestablished, while 56 percent said the troops should be redeployed to avoid further U.S. casualties, even if the sectarian violence is continuing.

And while reactionary and pro-war Democrats like Rahm Emanuel and Steny Hoyer are working full time to sabotage Jack Murtha's efforts to come up with a solid plan to establish requirements for the training and resting of military units that would have the effect of limiting the number of troops available to send to Iraq, a full 58% of Americans approve of his approach. "Even some Americans, 21 percent, who supported the president's troop surge said they would favor rules for training and resting troops."

Two of the most perceptive bloggers I know, Matt Stoller and David Sirota, are as concerned as we are at DWT that there is insufficient resolve on the part of Democrats in Congress to end the war. I'm not basing my concerns on some poorly written story the AP put out over the wires today about a lack of support for Murtha. If you follow this blog, you know I've been writing about it for weeks and pointing out the culprits and their records of playing footsie with the Bush Regime. People like Emanuel, Hoyer, Berman, Tauscher, Schiff are all in solidly blue districts. They should be held accountable for the war.

Sirota's read of the AP piece is that it "tells the story of how Democrats in Washington clearly do not want to end the Iraq War. This story includes all of the tell-tale signs of both a party that disdains the will of voters and a media unwilling to report even the most basic facts: Nancy Pelosi reading Fox News talking points that claim conditioning funding on American troops' training is supposedly not supporting the troops; Harry Reid nonchalantly saying in the face of mounting casualties that there's no real urgency to do anything on the war because 'Iraq is going to be there;' and the AP writer refusing to acknowledge consistent public opinion polls by CNN and the Washinton Post that show the public strongly supports Congress cutting off funding for Bush's military escalation and conditioning funding on adequate troop training, respectively.  

Make no mistake about it: The renewed refusal by Democrats to use their majority in even the most basic way to stop the war is a declaration that the new majority is not close to using even the most basic powers afforded to it to stop or slow down the war. In other words, in backing off, the Democrats have just weeks after the 2006 anti-war election mandate effectively declared themselves as supportive of the Bush administration's stay-the-course policy-- a truly sickening act of cowardice."

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Monday, February 26, 2007



I've been lecturing, occasionally, at Stanford for two decades. I never met Condolezza Rice when she was at the far right "think" tank there, the Hoover Institute, nor when she was Provost at Stanford for 6 years in the '90s. I've asked a lot of faculty members who did meet her what she was like. The most positive thing anyone has ever told me about her is that she was an OK piano player. Academically she was always a joke, someone who had managed to get through a series of third-rate schools because of a good memory and some charm but little with little ability for analysis or real comprehension. Bush's father hired her as a tutor for his learning-disabled son when they decided to run him for president (of the United States). The results are clearly displayed every time one turns on the TV or opens a newspaper.

You know how McCain mentioned the other day that Donald Rumsfeld would go down in history as the worst Secretary of Defense ever? He was too polite to say who is going down in history as the worst Secretary of State ever. (Hint: not Colin Powell or Madeleine Albright.) Tonight, however, Keith Olbermann was more forthright. John's got the video up at Crooks and Liars and it really is not to be missed. Anyone who is still wondering why our nation is held in so low esteem everywhere in the world no longer has to worry it was all done by Bush and Cheney. Olbermann points out that the incomprehensible drivel she was spouting yesterday on Fox-- and John's got that up too-- was so retarded that "if it had been included in a remedial history paper at the weakest high school in the nation, would've gotten the writer an "F"-- maybe an expulsion... The Secretary's resume reads that she has a Masters' Degree and a Ph.D in Political Science. The interviewer should have demanded to see them, on the spot." Watch the video.

Then read Glenn Greenwald's overview of the Iraq tragedy about another rank Bush Regime operative, the ever more odious Joe Lieberman. And if you're still managing to hold your last meal down, try Dan Froomkin's explanation of who let the dog out to run and bother people in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Meanwhile Americans overwhelmingly favor Jack Murtha's bill to block Bush's escalation while the entire Republican caucus and more than a few reactionary Democrats led by Rahm Emanuel and Steny Hoyer, are determined to scuttle it and continue Bush's war agenda.


And if anyone has experience with incompetence... Anyway in a longwinded, self-serving interview today with some far right propaganda outlet, the loathsome warmonger and Neocon, Richard Perle goes out of his way to name all the disastrous choices Bush has made personnel-wise. And who's the first one out of his mouth: Condi-- "way in over her head."

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If you've watched CNN in the past few weeks (months?... it seems like years), you are probably aware that they have become "Your All Anna Nicole Smith All The Time Station." Probably someone is telling them they may lose serious viewers to Fox...... MSNBC... ABC... video games. So in an effort to wean their audience, now accustomed to hearing about nothing but the sordid, meaningless details of Anna Nicole Smith's pointless life, back into the realm of serious news, CNN has contacted each presidential candidate to ask them a question CNN viewers will have no trouble relating to: "What is your favorite color movie?

Wisely, Obama seems to always refuse to get drawn into this demeaning nonsense. Giuliani, however, surprised everyone by naming neither Glen or Glenda, White Chicks, La Cage Aux Folles, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Victor/Victoria, Osama, Tootsie nor Hedwig and the Angry Inch but instead naming the more traditionally costumed Godfather (which suits another aspect of his personality).

Mitt Romney passed on Big Love and A Home AT the End of the World in favor of the more (traditional) family-friendly Raiders of the Lost Ark. Oddly enough McCain picked a 1952 film-- when he was a mere boy of 40-- called Viva Zapata which people currently interpret as an allegorical slam against the corruption and tyranny of the Bush Regime. (That naughty McCain!)

John Edwards' choice, Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, probably isn't going to inspire much confidence. And Hillary's and Bill Richardson's picks seem carefully chosen to avoid any controversy, respectively Casablanca and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

Way on the far edge of the political universe, Duncan Hunter and Newt Gingrich were disqualified when they came to blows over who had chosen Leni Riefenstahl's Triumph of the Will first.

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Bush's popularity rating in Kentucky is dismal (37%)-- but that hasn't stopped Mitch "His Bitch" McConnell (52% approval) from inviting him to Louisville for a fundraiser next week at the Seelbach Hotel. "The kind of people who go to these things," one Kentucky political observer explained to us, "are pretty well-heeled. They love Bush for the tax breaks. Most working and middle class people in Kentucky have felt the pinch of Bush's crappy economic policies. The ones who have gotten richer and richer are the ones who support him and McConnell. And it doesn't matter to them that most people in the state are opposed to their war policies."

"I am thrilled he accepted my invitation," oozed Kentucky closet case and senior Senator McConnell. "It's always an honor to have the president in Kentucky." Apparently he's hoping that the demonstrators who don't feel quite as honored, will make a bad enough impression-- and, let's face it, that is easily manipulatable, especially by the practiced propaganda artists at Fox-- on the TV audience.

With more and more Kentucky voters starting to question McConnell's disgraceful role in bolstering the Bush Regime war agenda that they do not support, Democrats are starting to show interest in a race that Inside-the-Beltway pundits are still considering a lock for McConnell. "If it starts getting out to the rural and suburban voters that he's a closet case and that all his anti-gay rhetoric was just a cover up for his hypocrisy, he'll be finished in this state," a Lexington reporter-- who won't report that he already knows McConnell is a gay blade-- told us ("off the record"). The same reporter tells us he expects prominent and respected Kentucky businessman Charlie Owen to enter the race soon.


After all, the Seelbach is fabulous, absolutely fabulous-- just like our Bushie.


And I thought Boehner was the most out of touch congressional leader in history! McConnell apparently doesn't know nothin' about nothin'. The Moonie Times had some questions for him and all he could say is that he doesn't know-- and they weren't like the kind of questions DWT would ask him either. From today's Hotline: "Asked about a new poll showing most Americans want troops withdrawn from Iraq: 'I didn't see the poll.' Asked about the suicide bombing said to have targeted VP Cheney: 'Well, I think the fact that there was a bomb that went off in Afghanistan is not something that hasn't-- it was in Afghanistan, right?' Told yes: 'It's happened before. It's dangerous there.' Asked about 'an agreement the Iraqi government reached on oil revenue': 'Has it been reached?' Told yes, and then asked more about it: 'I haven't-- yeah, I haven't seen it, so I really don't know what the details are. Sorry.' Finally, asked about the decision to involve the U.S. in talks with Iran and Syria: 'Yeah, I really haven't focused on it yet.'" Of course, given what was available who else could teh Republicans in the Senate have chosen to lead them? Charlie's gonna make mincemeat out of this loon if he runs.

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I can't remember how many years have gone by since I started asking how come the mass media never brings up the $400,000 bribe Thomas Kontogiannis paid George Bush through then Republican Congressman/bagman Randy "Duke" Cunningham for a presidential pardon. Oh, it does get mentioned now and then... but like in the 22nd paragraph on the second page of a story buried in the back of the paper. And somehow CNN misses it entirely. Well, after all, bribing the president-- even an illegitimate one like Bush-- is nothing compared to the clownish wrangling over the rotting corpse of an ex-stripper who lost and gained weight a few times.

So it didn't surprise me at all that today's editorial in the New York Times about why U.S. Attorney Carol Lam was fired doesn't mention Kontogiannis-- or even corrupt Republican congressional bribetakers Jerry Lewis or Duncan Hunter.
Carol Lam, the former United States attorney for San Diego, is smart and tireless and was very good at her job. Her investigation of Representative Randy Cunningham resulted in a guilty plea for taking more than $2 million in bribes from defense contractors and a sentence of more than eight years. Two weeks ago, she indicted Kyle Dustin Foggo, the former No. 3 official in the C.I.A. The defense-contracting scandal she pursued so vigorously could yet drag in other politicians.

In many Justice Departments, her record would have won her awards, and perhaps a promotion to a top post in Washington. In the Bush Justice Department, it got her fired.

Ms. Lam is one of at least seven United States attorneys fired recently under questionable circumstances. The Justice Department is claiming that Ms. Lam and other well-regarded prosecutors like John McKay of Seattle, David Iglesias of New Mexico, Daniel Bogden of Nevada and Paul Charlton of Arizona — who all received strong job evaluations — performed inadequately.

The Times piece today offers a tantalizing hint that should be investigated thoroughly once Republican criminals are dislodged from the levers of governmental power: "Ms. Lam had already put one powerful Republican congressman in jail and was investigating other powerful politicians. The Justice Department, unpersuasively, claims that it was unhappy about Ms. Lam’s failure to bring more immigration cases. Meanwhile, Ms. Lam has been replaced with an interim prosecutor whose résumé shows almost no criminal law experience, but includes her membership in the Federalist Society, a conservative legal group."

Until then Jerry Lewis, Duncan Hunter, John Doolittle, Virgil Goode, Ken Calvert, Gary Miller and George W. Bush will all be able to breathe a lot easier.

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"This is (lawmakers') best opportunity to have hands-on experience with these products that they are regulating."
-Michael Petricone, a lobbyist for the Consumer Electronics Association, after having been exposed for paying for a nice trip to Vegas for Congressman and Mrs. Cliff Stearns (R-FL). And Stearns' spokesman, Paul Flusche backed him up, saying the trip was "an educational experience" that helps Rep. Stearns "do his job better."

Never mind about wife Joan; let's just look into Congressman Stearn's job (aside from upholding the law of the land that had just passed prohibiting these kinds of bribes from lobbyists-- which, of course, he voted against). Stearns is the ranking Republican on the committee overseeing trade and consumer protection. Here's his abysmal voting record on consumer protection. In short, he's into protecting corporations and screwing consumers. And as long as we're examining voting records, let;s have a look at how Congressman Stearns has voted on Congressional Ethics. Well, he certainly is consistent. He has a perfect score: zero. He always votes against congressmen being held accountable for their ethical misconduct. This guy is a total scumbag.
In November Stearns was returned to Congress by 60% of the voters of central Florida's 6th congressional district, a smaller margin than usual. He raised close to a million dollars, has well over $2 million on hand and got most of his donations from business groups' PACs on whose legislation he has been voting (in favor of their interests).

Just so you don't think I'm picking on the corrupt Stearns because he's a Republican, I should mention that there are some Democrats just as almost as corrupt as Republicans. Take reactionary Minnesota scumbag Collin Peterson for example.
Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, took an overnight trip last month paid for by the American Farm Bureau, according to a report Peterson filed with the House. The bureau paid the $1,800 tab for him to speak at its annual meeting.

"There's nothing unethical about the trip," said Mary Kay Thatcher, the bureau's public policy director. "It's not like we took him to Hawaii and kept him there for five days."

Peterson did not respond to interview requests.

No, I wouldn't think so. But if he does, we'll do a follow-up Quote of the Day.



Before any progressive decides to jump on the Chuck Hagel for President bandwagon, I suggest they look at the man's long career in public office. Let's start with his voting record. The DMI looked at his votes on issues affecting the lives of the middle class and found he has a perfect score-- a perfect F, a zero. He never waivers; he always votes the extreme right wing line; always. Whether you're talking about legislation that favors corporations over workers and consumers, legislation to save destroy the environment, backing Bush's agenda of shifting the burdens of taxation away from the wealthy and onto the middle class, destroying women's right to choice (or even to acquire contraceptives), or undermining workers and restricting labor unions, Hagel is consistent and unwavering; no one is worse in the entire U.S. Senate. His scores on all these issues are perfect zeroes.

Oh, but you like him because he's been speaking out on Iraq. OK, fair enough; I do too. His voting record, on the other hand, tells a different story. You don't like Hillary Clinton's Iraq War voting record? (Neither do I.) Hagel's is infinitely worse. Two weeks ago he voted with Bush and Cheney to prohibit even the nonbinding resolution to come up for a vote! Before that he had, of course, voted with Bush and Cheney on all 6 of the roll calls on October 10 and 11, 2002 to authorize the use of force against Iraq (and, in Cheney's mind, the known universe). Beyond that, Hagel voted with the Bush Regime 25 times out of the 29 times Iraq War matters came before the Senate between October, 2002 and May, 2005. He does talk a good game, I'll give you that. (By the way, for the sake of comparison, Clinton voted the Bush Regime line 7 times on those same 29 roll calls.)

Today's USA Today has a puff piece touting Hagel as an antiwar unity candidate, who might run with a Democrat. The only Democrat whose record is in sync with his own, Ben Nelson (the most Republican Democrat by far) is constitutionally ineligible, since the president and vice-president can't be from the same state (unless, of course they are Bush and Cheney and the Constitution is just a meaningless piece of paper).

"He said that if he ran he would seek the Republican nomination. Yet he's also talking up Unity08. That's a plan by a bipartisan group of political operatives to draft a bipartisan presidential ticket on the Internet and offer voters an alternative to the Democratic and Republican candidates next year." One can only imagine the collection of reactionary monstrosities in that bipartisan group: the Liebermen, Nelsons, and Landrieus joined with a clutch of rubber stamp Republicans frightened of their state's voters. A perfect way to continue reactionary governance even with massive defections from the Republican Party everywhere in the country (except Utah, if you recognize that benighted place as part of the country).

"If I decide to get into this, I would run not just to make a statement," said Hagel last week. "I think it's a very intriguing enterprise," when asked about the Unity08 schtik, recognizing the general voter dissatisfaction with the two corporately-owned Money Parties (of which Hagel is, and has always been, a member in good standing).

The USA Today article, through shear ignorance and laziness, I suspect, then goes on to whitewash Hagels' Iraq War record, as though he voted with the Bush Regime once and has opposed them ever since. The writer, Kathy Kiely, should lose her journalism license. Oh... they don't have licenses? That explains it.
Despite his own stated misgivings, Hagel voted with 76 other senators in October 2002 to give Bush the authority to go to war in Iraq. He said he did so after being assured by the president and his advisers that "he was going to use that leverage to get the diplomatic effort on track."

Since then, Hagel has become a prominent critic of Bush's policies in Iraq and the Middle East generally. This culminated in an impassioned speech last month in a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing when he challenged his colleagues to take a stand on a resolution he co-sponsored disapproving of the president's planned troop increase in Iraq. "If you wanted a safe job, go sell shoes," he said.

And his voting record? It takes less than 60 seconds to find. I'd suggest a rewrite of the first sentence in the second paragraph to reflect reality, rather than hype and spin. Does USA Today care about reality? It's only the most important issue facing our country today. It's not like I'm even asking the newspaper to go back and investigate how Hagel pioneered electronic voter fraud when he first ran for election in what turned out to be a dress rehearsal for Bush's seizure of the U.S. government. Anyway, after you're finished wrapping your fish or lining your birdcage, you might want to read the GQ story and take a closer look at some of the research I pointed out at the links.

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Sunday, February 25, 2007



Former vice presidents... what ever happens to them? They play golf and stage hissy fits at John Mellencamp concerts like Dan Quayle? Not Al Gore. He's accomplished more since he left office than when he was in it-- and now he's being heralded as a "rock star" and the "coolest ex-vice president. Almost everyone I know who talks about who they support for president has the same qualifier... "unless Al Gore runs."

DWT endorsed him in 2005 and 2006; this will be our 2007 endorsement. We hearby endorse the only American ex-vice president to win an Oscar (and soon to win a Nobel Peace Prize). My guess is that with the exception of al-Qaida-- who will do anything to keep the Republicans in power-- the entire world is rooting for Gore to win the Nobel Prize and the presidency. Will he run?

Al didn't only win the Oscar tonight because every sane person on the planet wants him to be president. Did you see the movie he made? It kicks ass. "An Inconvenient Truth," is basically Al giving an hour and a half slide show about global warming. It's the third-highest-grossing documentary ever, with a worldwide box office of $45 million, right behind blockbusters "Fahrenheit 9/11" and "March of the Penguins."
"He is more popular now than he ever was in office, and he knows it," says Laurie David, one of the producers of "Inconvenient Truth" and a Hollywood environmental activist (and wife of "Seinfeld" co-creator Larry David) who has traveled around the world promoting the film with Gore. "He's a superhero now."

Everyone I know, inside politics and outside, wants Al to run for president. Imagine someone like him who we've come to admire and trust as a human being, someone concerned with the welfare of our planet, instead of... some beady-eyed triangulator who has one thing going for her: better than a Republican. According to a recent story in the Boston Globe "Gore could raise large amounts of money very quickly based on his record and name recognition, and his statements about the 2008 race haven't foreclosed the possibility of reconsidering at a later date. Several observers, including supporters and detractors, say they could envision a political drama in which the current candidates become sullied over the Iraq war and liberal voters call for Gore to enter the race."

If tonight's Oscar doesn't do it, the Nobel Peace Prize should.
The fear and hatred from the extremists and neo-fascists is so hysterical that it is clear that Gore is what they are most afraid of. And for good reason. There are half a dozen Draft Al websites (like this one and this one) and, unlike Democratic pols such as Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden, he has a long and clear record of opposing Bush's attack on Iraq. "In 2002, Gore roundly denounced plans for an invasion at a time when few Democrats did so, saying in one of many speeches attacking the war, 'The chaos in the aftermath of a military victory in Iraq could easily pose a far greater danger to the United States than we presently have from Saddam' [Hussein]."

Despite what George Clooney said when introducing the nominees for Best Supporting Actress, I think Al will run, will win and will help us save ourselves from the catastrophe that ensued when the presidency he won in 2000 was stolen from him. The world is ready for Al Gore.

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If my career path depended on electing generic "Democrats" to office, then that's what I'd care about, I guess. But the idea of electing anyone under the ill-defined rubric "Democrat" isn't something that should be reflexively embraced by thoughtful progressives. Before I explain why, let me refute my own argument a bit. In the extreme western tip of North Carolina, centered around Asheville, the 11th congressional district had long been home to one of the most reactionary and corrupt politicians in the entire United States, Charlie Taylor. In November 54% of the votes in the district (123,986) went to Heath Shuler, an anti-choice, anti-gun control, anti-gay conservative under the Democratic umbrella. Forget for a moment that even if my suspicions are correct and Shuler-- who immediately upon election joined both the DLC-oriented pro-corporate New Democratic Coalition and the reactionary Blue Dog caucus-- winds up voting with Republican-lite southern Democrats like Jim Marshall (GA), John Barrow (GA), Gene Taylor (MS), Dan Boren (OK), Bud Cramer (AL) and Mike McIntyre (NC), he will be voting substantially better than even the most progressive Republican. Forget that because my point is even more important: just by having been elected as a "Democrat"-- regardless of how pathetic and how reactionary a Democrat, and regardless of how damaging he is to the Democratic "brand" (more on that below)-- Shuler was an automatic vote for Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House.

That acknowledged, let's move to the single most important issue facing our nation right now: Bush's occupation of Iraq and the moronic and catastrophic war he is waging against Islam. Most American military experts and most American voters think Bush's course is dead wrong and they want him to change course. He absolutely refuses. In November, voters made their wishes known by defeating more than enough Bush rubber stamp congressmen and senators to give majorities in both chambers to Democrats. Steadfast anti-war progressives like John Hall (NY), Jerry McNerney (CA), Steve Cohen (TN), Carol Shea-Porter (NH), Keith Ellison (MN), John Yarmuth (KY), Joe Sestak (PA), Patrick Murphy (PA), Yvette Clarke (NY), Dave Loebsack (IA), Mazie Hirono (HI), Peter Welch (VT) were elected in the House while in the Senate wild-eyed radicals and warmongers like George Macacawitz Allen (VA), James Talent (MO), Mike DeWine (OH) and Conrad Burns (MT) were replaced by sensible opponents of Bush's Iraq policies (respectively, Jim Webb, Claire McCaskill, Sherrod Brown and John Tester). Not one single Democratic incumbent was defeated in either the House or Senate and not a single open Democratic seat was won by a Republican. The election was a stinging rebuke for the Bush Regime in general and for their universally-hated Iraq policies in particular.

It is the American people, not their representatives in Congress, who are leading the effort to stop Bush. Professional politicians are rarely-- I didn't want to say "never," because there are always the rare exceptions; but they are indeed rare-- lead; they figure out which way the wind is blowing and run to the head of the parade-- after it looks safe enough. That said, there are a considerable number of Democrats sincerely convinced that the Bush Regime policies are dragging our country to disaster and they really do want to stop the war.

So what's holding up the ship? That brings us back to fake Democrats, like Heath Shuler. This morning both the New York Times and the Washington Post reports on the problems Jack Murtha (and Nancy Pelosi) are having in uniting the whole Democratic caucus behind plans to stop the war. According to the Post "The plan was bold: By tying President Bush's $100 billion war request to strict standards of troop safety and readiness, Democrats believed they could grab hold of Iraq war policy while forcing Republicans to defend sending troops into battle without the necessary training or equipment. But a botched launch by the plan's author, Rep. John P. Murtha (Pa), has united Republicans and divided Democrats, sending the latter back to the drawing board just a week before scheduled legislative action, a score of House Democratic lawmakers said last week."

We'll discuss the role of Pelosi's own devious and treacherous leadership team-- undercover pro-war fanatics Steny Hoyer and Rahm Emanuel-- in a moment. First let's look at the dependably reactionary Democrats who tend to vote with Bush anyway. The very first example in the Post of a Democrat parroting Karl Rove's pro-war talking points is, predictably, Jim Matheson of Utah. Although the Post merely identifies Matheson as "a Democrat," even the most superficial look at his voting record on Iraq tells a story the Post might have considered sharing with its readers. The House voted 44 times between the fateful Oct 10, 2002 votes to authorize Bush to invade Iraq and the May 25, 2005 bill to authorize more military activities. Matheson voted with the Republicans and against the Democrats on each of the 4 October 10th roll calls to authorize the attack on Iraq. Of the 44 roll calls Matheson voted with the Republicans 21 times, a disgraceful record matched by a mere 8 Democrats, two of whom-- Jack Murtha and Ike Skelton-- have now, unlike Matheson and the others, realized their trust in Bush was severely misplaced.

While Murtha and Skelton are trying to solve the problem, Blue Dog Democrats of the Matheson ilk are pandering to the far right: "If this is going to be legislation that's crafted in such a way that holds back resources from our troops, that is a non-starter, an absolute non-starter." Matheson knows better than to insinuate that Jack Murtha, the military;s best friend in Congress, would endanger our troops and "hold back resources" from them. But Matheson and the Blue Dogs are so accustomed to bending over for Bush and Cheney that they automatically pick up on the White House directed/Fox propagated rhetoric meant to confuse and deceive the public. "Matheson and other Blue Dogs said the Democrats should concentrate on oversight hearings on Iraq policy, while refraining from binding legislation on the war." That would suit Bush and Cheney just fine.

Murtha will take his plan to the Democratic House leadership on Wednesday where Emanuel and Hoyer will do all in their power to undermine him and wreck his approach. The Times points out that "the ideas Mr. Murtha has floated over the past month-- attaching restrictions to the financing, and requiring the Pentagon to meet clear standards on readiness, training and equipment for troops about to be deployed to Iraq-- have already drawn substantial criticism. Mr. Murtha has argued that his approach both protects American forces and makes Mr. Bush’s troop buildup plan impossible to sustain." Hoyer and Emanuel, who did all they could to prevent the nomination of anti-war Democrats in last year's primaries, while pushing Republican-lite Dems like Shuler and Tim Mahoney, represent a significant number of Democrats who are as enthusiastic about destroying Iraq (and Iran and Syria) as are Bush, Cheney and the Neocons.

The largest single caucus among House Democrats-- in fact among all members of Congress-- is the Congressional Progressive Caucus. Alas, it is far from the most effective. More freshmen joined the reactionary Blue Dogs and New Democratic Coalition caucuses this year than the Progressives. The new freshmen members are Yvette Clarke (NY), Steve Cohen (TN), Keith Ellison (MN), John Hall (NY), Mazie Hirono (HI), Hank Johnson (GA), Dave Loebsack (IA), and Peter Welch (VT). Nancy Pelosi left when she became Speaker and two prominent members, Sherrod Brown and Bernie Sanders were elected to the Senate. Unlike the two reactionary Democratic caucuses, the CPC wants to end Bush's war in Iraq. Many of these people have embraced Murtha's On-the-Road-to-Damascus-like change of heart and are trusting him to get us out of Iraq. But not everyone.

Murtha's strategy is viewed warily by some progressives and by many reactionaries and by the otherwise liberal warmongers. Hoyer and Emanuel feel certain they can exploit these divisions to keep the Congress from taking any meaningful action against Bush's Iraq agenda.


David Sirota takes Jonathan Weisman and Lyndsey Layton, the team who wrote the Post article I was quoting above, to task out to the woodshed for poor journalism. You have to get through 14 paragraphs of all their blather before there's any substance offered regarding Murtha's Iraq proposal. Why are so many vested interests against us getting out of Iraq. The Bush Regime (of course), almost the entire Republican caucus in Congress, and all the most reactionary and warmongering Democrats have jumped all over him. Some right wing activists have been demanding he be tried for treason. Well, this is what the traitor had to say:
"To be sent to battle, troops would have to have had a year's rest between combat tours. Soldiers in Iraq could not have their tours extended beyond a year there. And the Pentagon's 'stop-loss' policy, which prevents some officers from leaving the military when their service obligations are up, would end. Troops would have to be trained in counterinsurgency and urban warfare and be sent overseas with the equipment they used in training."

Is there something wrong with Murtha's proposal? I mean I can understand why people who hate the troops and hate America might be against it but why are Democrats and the media buying into this nonsense? Murtha, a decorated ex-Marine, has been the best friend the military has had in Congress for decades. He's always stood up for their interests-- always. Now suddenly the media is listening to the spin from chicken hawks like Karl Rove, Dick Cheney and George Bush|? The support these people have offered the military is on display at Walter Reed.


Huff and puff all they went, the Inside the Beltway Establishment hasn't fooled the American public this time. We know Murtha's plan is the right thing to do. Sit on that Steny Hoyer and John Boehner-- and spin. Although the Washington Post somehow neglects to mention it in their anti-Murtha propaganda barrage, it's their own polling that shows these results:

Would you support or oppose Congress trying to block Bush’s plan by creating new rules on troop training and rest time that would limit the number of troops available for duty in Iraq?
Support: 58 percent
Oppose: 39 percent
Unknown: 4 percent